Last night at our house church meeting, there was a discussion about Abraham following God's astonishing call, and what things we have in our lives that might prevent us from following Abraham's example.
It's a hard question to consider. There were a number of answers - family, job and more - but I wonder if they really hit the core problem.
Years ago, I heard a sermon on being God's friend. Anyone who would be a friend of God, said the preacher, will be tested in three areas, after the pattern of Abraham. The first is trusting God for material provision. That's not always easy, as Abraham no doubt discovered when he got to "the place I will show you," and found ... famine. And it can be pretty traumatic for us to think we trust him and then suddenly lose our job and find our trust was a little shaky. But it's not an impossible task.
The next is to trust God with our reputation. Now we've moved up the "difficulty ladder" several steps. We value a good reputation, and we should. To have our reputation destroyed, especially unfairly by someone else, can be devastating.
I was in that situation one time, and found myself struggling to find a reason to continue living. I was confused, and didn't understand why my world had suddenly fallen apart. People I considered as close friends avoided me. I was sitting in church one day, struggling in a black pit of despair, when God spoke to me. "Do you trust me?" Yes, Lord. I do. "Do you trust me with everything?" Yes I do, Lord. "Do you trust me with your reputation?" Yes, Lord, I... I stopped. Did I?
I never understood before that the importance of our reputation. It's a huge part of our self image and self esteem. When mine was torn away, I wanted to die. Did I trust God with my reputation?
After some struggle, I came to trust him, even with that. But it was far more difficult than mere unemployment. And I don't want to go through it again.
Third, we will be tested to trust God with our deepest longings. What is the core desire of my heart? Do I trust God with that? For Abraham, it was Isaac. And scripture recounts an utterly amazing scene where God tells Abraham to take his son - "your son, your only son, whom you love" - and kill him as a sacrifice to God.
This is beyond my comprehension. What would I do? I don't know. The question is too hard for me.
For me, I think the desire of my heart has been to make a difference in the kingdom of God, to be a factor in changing lives and helping people grow into fully committed followers of Jesus. My great fear has been that God would not use me, that for some reason, I would be unworthy and passed by.
Then the question came to me: What's the real desire of my heart? Is it to do things? Or is it to truly know God? To know him deeply and in truth?
I have posted the question elsewhere: "If all that is permitted to you in this life is to truly know God, is that enough?" It's a hard question, but a very good one.
What the obstacle for you? What keeps you from saying and unqualified yes to God?